Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Computer glitch leaves hundreds of airline passangers stranded

It was a long day for passengers flying Alaska or Horizon Airlines Saturday. A computer glitch left passengers at a stand still.

A blown transformer knocked out service to the airlines' computer system which is used to plan all flights for the air carrier. As of noon Saturday, 15 percent of the airline's flights had been canceled nationwide, including those at the Rogue Valley International Airport where dozens of flights were delayed or canceled.

Stranded passenger Crystal Anajos and her family were trying to make it home to Illinois but they were delayed for more than six hours.

"They had to switch our flight so when we should have been home to Chicago at 11:55 tonight, now we wont be home until tomorrow morning," she said.

The company did issue a statement on their website updating passangers on the problem and reminding customers to check their flight status before leaving for the airport.

On Sunday, the presidents of both airlines took to YouTube to apologize to customers.

It took about nine hours to restore the system.

And things were back to normal at the Medford Airport Sunday with no flight delays or cancellations.

Neha Jain

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High-income fliers are unhappier with airlines, survey says

With airfares on the rise and airlines cramming more fliers per plane, it's no surprise that passengers are feeling increasingly unhappy about the service they get from U.S. carriers.

And well-heeled passengers — who presumably spend more on airline flights — feel even worse about the service they get, according to a survey released last week.

Fliers with annual household incomes of $100,000 or more are nearly twice as likely as travelers from households making less than $50,000 a year to have negative feelings toward their airline, according to an online survey by the Connecticut marketing research firm PhoCusWright.

The reason: Business travelers and affluent fliers said they didn't feel they were getting their money's worth.

"When you spend that much money, you have higher expectations," said Carroll Rheem, the firm's research director. "There is definitely a connection between price points and satisfaction."

Thirty-two percent of fliers with incomes of more than $100,000 had somewhat negative or very negative sentiments toward their airline, according to the survey of 1,559 people. Only 17% of fliers with incomes of less than $50,000 felt that way.

Part of the reason for the negative feelings, Rheem said, is that passengers must pay fees to check bags, get better seats and receive meals, among other things.

"Passengers are not happy," she said, "because they are being charged for things they didn't pay for before."

• Upgrade planned for Burbank airport

Anyone who has ever flown from Burbank's Bob Hope Airport knows it's a cramped, aging facility that is nonetheless popular among fliers from the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys.

But the airport is working on upgrades, starting with construction this summer of a $120-million transit center to house its car rental companies. The center will also provide better access to the Amtrak, Metrolink and bus stations.

The transit center will be on the south end of the airport, near West Empire Avenue, and an elevated moving walkway will connect it to the terminal, airport spokesman Victor Gill said.

The center will provide room for more car rental agencies, thus increasing competition, he said.

The convenience will come with a cost. To help pay for the center's construction, the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority is eliminating the one-time $10 facility improvement fee that passengers pay when they rent a car. Instead, the airport will charge a $6 per day rental fee for up to five days or a maximum of $30.

The new center should be open by December 2012.

• Wi-Fi to be added on 200 Continental planes

The last three years have been an era of airline mergers and acquisitions.

The biggest of the recently announced mergers — the marriage of United Airlines and Continental Airlines — should be completed this year. When the two airlines operate as one called United, it will fly more than 700 aircraft.

But pulling off all the details of an airline merger can be tricky.

For example, United Continental Holdings Inc., the parent company of the merging airlines, announced last week plans to install wireless Internet service on 200 Continental aircraft.

Since 2009, United has provided airborne Internet on only 14 planes through Illinois-based Aircell, the ground-to-air Internet provider for seven other major airlines in North America.

But instead of adding Aircell Internet service to the Continental planes, the merged airline will use the Wi-Fi services of Florida-based LiveTV, which already provides satellite-based television on dozens of Continental planes.

United Continental spokesman Rahsaan Johnson said using LiveTV for the Internet service would be easier for the airline and enable it to keep the existing satellite TV service.

United charges a flat $12.95 fee to connect to the Aircell service. The price to use the Wi-Fi service on the Continental aircraft has not been announced.

3. JAL Emerges From Bankruptcy

TOKYO—Japan Airlines Corp. said Monday it has effectively emerged from bankruptcy protection, completing a restructuring process that entailed a massive curtailing of its work force and routes.

But the outlook for the airline remains cloudy, with travel demand sharply eroded by the massive earthquake and ...

4. Congress seeks to bridge distance on air-travel bills

Consumer protection for airline passengers, funding for airport improvements and the efficiency of the nation's air-traffic system are among the issues at stake in wide-ranging legislation moving through Congress.

Separate versions of the legislation in the House of Representatives and Senate contain many provisions that could affect fliers.
Among them: provisions that would write into law passenger protections from lengthy delays on the tarmac; cuts in federal subsidies to airlines for flying into rural airports; and more options for people who want to fly non-stop from the West Coast to Washington, D.C.
The bills also could have sweeping implications for the efficiency of air travel. They contain several provisions that would push the Federal Aviation Administration to speed up the introduction of new technology that promises to make flights flow more smoothly.
The legislation, which sets guidelines for the FAA, expired in 2007. Attempts to update policies for the agency that oversees flight have been blocked since then, most often by fights over labor issues. Leaders in the House and Senate have vowed to move the legislation this year, although bills in the two chambers differ significantly.
The Senate passed its version of the bill in February. The House bill has been approved by the transportation committee and could come up in the full chamber as early as this week. If the House bill passes, the differences would be worked out in a conference committee.
•Consumer protection. Following a federal rule enacted last year, the Senate's bill would require airlines to return aircraft to the gate if a flight is delayed on the tarmac for more than three hours. It also says airports must develop plans for dealing with such lengthy delays. Writing the protection into law makes the protection harder to overturn.
The Senate bill would create criminal penalties for airport security screeners who distribute images created by body scanners, which peer through clothing in search of weapons or explosives. The Transportation Security Administration, which oversees aviation security, prohibits copying or distributing the images.
Noting that more airlines are charging passengers for checked bags, the House bill would require a study of the feasibility of requiring airlines to compensate passengers for bags that arrive late.
•Airport construction. Spurred by the election of dozens of fiscally conservative new members, the House version would cut funding on several fronts, including grants to airports for runway maintenance, safety enhancements and security. The proposal would cut funding to $3 billion a year, a 14% decrease from the $3.5 billion in place since 2006.
Airports believe that the cuts would reduce their ability to keep up with future capacity demands, says Greg Principato, president of the Airports Council International. The Senate would increase funding to $4 billion a year for airport projects.
•FAA spending. The House also wants to cut FAA spending to 2008 levels, saving $4 billion over four years, a roughly 7% reduction. House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica, R-Fla., says the agency could cut that money without jeopardizing air safety or the ongoing program to modernize the air-traffic system over the next decade.
FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt says uncertainty about FAA funding already has prompted the agency to pause in its efforts to certify new aviation technology and could even slow the opening of aircraft manufacturer plants, thereby reducing jobs.
The Senate supports giving the FAA $17.5 billion this year, a 16% increase over the House.
•Rural flights. The House would end federal subsidies to airlines that fly to rural airports that otherwise would not have commercial service. Airports in Alaska and Hawaii would still be eligible for federal subsidies.
The Senate would keep the program, nearly doubling the funding to $200 million. Senate commerce committee Chairman John Rockefeller, D-W.Va., whose state relies on the flights, vows to keep the subsidy.

Neha Jain

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Captain America, Chris Evans return as an avenger for the modern age (TRAILER)


Captain America originally was an idea dreamed up by writer Joe Simon and artist Jack Kirby as a patriotic superhero when America entered World War II in 1941.

After the War, the character’s popularity waned and he was effectively retired. But in March 1964 the character was successfully revived by Stan Lee.

Fans got their first look at the upcoming Captain America movie in a 30 second spot during the Super Bowl. The first full-length trailer showed up this week.

According to CBS News, Captain America: The First Avenger is based on Marvel's character Steve Rogers, played by Chris Evans, who is found unfit for military service during World War II. He volunteers for a top-secret U.S research project that transforms him into Captain America, a superhero dedicated to fighting for America's ideals.

In one scene of the trailer, MTV reports Rogers is chased into an alley and attempts to defend himself with a trashcan lid — a nod to the red-white-and-blue shield he'll soon wield as the Captain. This scene shot also gives us an idea of around when the story begins. A poster in the alley shows the date to be May 29, 1943.

Later, we see Dr. Abraham Erskine in the laboratory with the serum transforming Rogers into a superhero, as well as Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper), who just so happens to be the father of Iron Man.

In addition to Captain America, you see sidekick Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), Union Jack (JJ Field) and Dum Dum Dungan (Neal McDonough). Captain America will meet foes of the HYDRA army controlled by Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), Hitler's head of weapons.

According to imdb.com, Captain America sacrifices himself to the Red Skull and winds up frozen in ice for almost six decades. Revived, Steve Rogers now must join forces with new heroes and become an Avenger of the modern age.

Kevin Feige of Marvel Studios mentioned his thoughts to the Sci Fi Movie Page about the planned Captain America movie: “We’re very interested in doing two things. One is having a rousing, Indiana Jones-type adventure in the beginning of the film, and also telling the equally important story of him being lost and then re-emerging in the modern era and being confronted with a very different world than existed during the War.”

The First Avenger: Captain America is slated for a July 22nd 2011 release date, while The Avengers (a teaming up of Captain America, Iron Man and Thor amongst others) has a May 4 2012 release date.

Neha Jain

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Senior captain Sislo leads way for Wildcats

MANCHESTER — Mike Sislo had one goal taken away by video replay in the first period and another confiscated by the opposing goalie on a breakaway in the second.

The third time was a charm.

The senior captain finally scored one that counted when he slammed home a gorgeous diagonal pass from Blake Kessel on the first shift of the third period.

And it stood up as the game-winning goal in the University of New Hampshire hockey team's 3-1 win over Miami Saturday in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

"I had a couple of good, quality chances," Sislo said. "It felt good to get that one in there. I was just happy for all the guys. We've worked hard all year. We were excited to come here and we're looking forward to take advantage of the opportunity."

Sislo's goal snapped a 1-1 tie and left the Wildcats one win away from their first Frozen Four in eight years.

UNH had fast starts and strong finishes in each period while dispatching a dangerous Miami team that entered the game with a 13-game unbeaten streak (10-0-3).

The Wildcats' first goal came 1:53 into the first period that offset the RedHawks' lone goal a minute earlier. Their second was 39 seconds into the third and their third goal came with 1:25 remaining in the game.

"We definitely focus on the first couple minutes of a period and the last couple of a period," Sislo said. "We took advantage of an opportunity and just kind of rolled with it."

The Wildcats went ahead to stay when Kessel found Sislo backdoor for an easy finish. Phil DeSimone also assisted.

"At the second intermission we talked about how we played 40 minutes of pretty good hockey," DeSimone said, "but none of it really mattered unless we come out in the third and take care of business. We wanted to set the tone for the rest of the team."

The second period was beginning to look like last weekend's game against Merrimack in the Hockey East semifinals where the Wildcats had numerous chances but couldn't finish.

UNH failed to capitalize on three power plays in the second. Sislo, DeSimone and Stevie Moses all had point-blank chances, but Miami goaltender Cody Reichard was solid.

"It was important to get the momentum right away," Sislo said. "I think we'd been playing like that prior to that. We stress playing a 60-minute game and I think this is about the closest we've come to that all year."

After the Wildcats scored early in the third period, the RedHawks tried to open it up but were continually frustrated by the Wildcats, who took away time and space from Miami's elusive forwards.

That included Hobey Baker favorite Andy Meile, who was limited to two shots on goal and was essentially a nonfactor.

"We did all the little things," Sislo said. "It wasn't the prettiest game ever but I think we were very disciplined and played very smart. It was one of the most complete games we've played all year."

Now they have to do it again tonight. The Wildcats have won first-round games in each of the past three years, but failed to advance each time.

"We've gotten to this game the last three years," DeSimone said. "Now it's our time to take the opportunity and take advantage of it and not let in slip away."

UNH lost to RIT last year in the regional final after upsetting Cornell, and in 2009 lost to eventual national champion Boston University after beating North Dakota in the first round.

"Being here before, we're well aware we have to come back and do the same thing (tonight)," Sislo said.

"We can't take anything for granted," he added. "You lose, you're done. You don't play well, you're done."

3. Jupp Heynckes, Philipp Lahm

4. No Pak drama on captaincy front

The balance of power in Pakistan cricket has always been a fascinating subject. Pulls and pressures, controversies and one-upmanship have all been an integral part of the set-up there, adding to the intrigue that surrounds one of the most talented but indisciplined teams in international cricket.

Currently, Shahid Afridi is the captain of the limited-overs squads, while Misbah-ul-Haq, a key member of the one-day team, is the regular Test captain. Younis Khan, who led the team with great distinction, is in both squads, but unlike in the past when such a situation might have led to the incumbent looking over his shoulder with concern and mistrust, today the Pakistan team is a happy house, relatively speaking.

Misbah and Younis are both class acts, not just with the bat but also in how they conduct themselves. It is impossible to imagine either of them indulging in scheming and plotting, not ever and certainly not towards the end of their careers.

Armed with the knowledge that he has two intelligent brains to pick from and that he doesn’t have to allow himself to feel insecure, Afridi has grown in stature as a leader. He eventually makes his own decisions but he has the grace and the courage to walk across to his senior members to seek suggestions. Misbah agreed that the brains trust did not always concur on every subject, but said that was no more than par for the course in any multi-individual sphere. 

“There will always be differences in opinion, but we always talk to the captain about what we think,” Misbah pointed out on Sunday. “Shahid is really good at that. He listens to the players, especially the senior players and the coaches. We decide everything with good coordination, that's why everything is going well and the team is performing well. 

It's a big thing, actually, that there is really good communication within the team, especially between the senior players and the captain.” Afridi himself has had an excellent World Cup, not so much with the bat as with the ball, his 21 wickets to date the highest in the competition. He has inspired and led from the front, and his team has risen manfully to his exhortations. “The most important thing is his aggression,” Misbah noted. 

“Also, he has led the team by example. He is performing really well, taking wickets at the right time, so it really helps the team when the captain is performing like that. At the same time, the players too are motivated to contribute their bit. Everybody is right behind him at the World Cup.”
Neha Jain

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